In the creative world, most artists wear a number of hats. We pride ourselves on being as self-taught and DIY-conscious as possible, but even with the best of intentions, there’s only so many hours in a day.
Perhaps Kya Shore has found some sort of magical time continuum that allows her to enjoy a thirty hour day? That’s really the only explanation I can come up with when reading over Shore’s accomplishments as an author, social media and email marketing specialist and owner/founder of Aspirations Press.
Whether she’s writing her own stories (which she’s been doing for nearly as long as she’s been able to hold a pencil) or assisting with the social media aspect of one of the most exciting fiction magazines to come along in quite some time (Gamut), there is no shortage of fascinating projects for Kya Shore – nor does there seem to be a shortage of time in a day.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Kya about her career, her love for the written word and what the future holds.
MANGLED MATTERS: I don’t use this label lightly, but I don’t think there are many others out there who deserve it as much as you do – you are one of the top women in horror who is making a big difference in the industry. For you personally, why horror? What or who got you hooked on the genre?
KYA SHORE: Wow, thank you so much. That really means a lot and I appreciate your kind words! I got hooked on horror when I read Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot. Somebody dared me to since I read so much but had never read horror before. I think I was barely twelve at the time, maybe thirteen.
While I was a voracious reader, that book made me feel things I’d never felt before. I was thrilled, excited, terrified, and had a deep, emotional connection with the characters. I was hooked for life. I loved the adrenaline rush that came with horror – it didn’t come with any other genre.
I love everything that you can do with the genre, and how deeply it can be explored. Horror isn’t just a genre, it’s an exploration of our deepest fears, concerns, hopes, and emotions. In a lot of cases, it’s you versus the world, you versus a monster. Horror is about being alone, and yet lets you know you’re not alone.
MM: You had accomplished so much as an author before most people get their driver’s license. Having self-published at such a young age, I imagine you learned a great deal about the industry and literally grew into the writing scene with first-hand knowledge of what to expect from the writing community.
KS: I was incredibly fortunate to have amazing family and friends who supported me throughout my writing endeavors. My mom is phenomenal. She home-schooled me and my little brother and sister. She always made sure that we knew we could do anything we set our mind to, and helped us be able to follow our dreams and educate ourselves. When my little brother wanted to learn guitar, Mom made sure he got lessons. When my little sister wanted to be an actress, Mom made sure she was in the best theater group in our area. When I decided to be a novelist, Mom helped me find online courses, books on the craft, and even helped form the Teen Writing Group at our local library, which still exists to this day!
I owe it to the amazing librarians at Watauga County Library for putting together a teen writing group, and scheduling professional authors and college professors to come in and teach us about the craft, critique our work, and even follow our progress.
One librarian in particular, Owen Gray, was extremely influential in my writing career. After I finished my first horror novel at fifteen years old, Owen critiqued it, line by line, and helped me understand what worked and what could be improved and how to improve it. He’s one of reasons I’m still writing today, and a huge influence on why I’m so open to criticism and learning the craft. He really taught me how every author improves with practice, even the New York Times Bestselling ones! While I am blessed and grateful to have an amazing and supportive family, he was probably the first professional to believe in me and encourage me. I knew my mom would believe in me no matter what, but to have a real-life librarian encouraging you to keep writing, and helping you! Wow, that means a lot when you’re fifteen. It still means a lot now that I’m twenty-two.
Also, I have to give a huge shout out to Hugh Howey (author of WOOL). He came to the library to teach us about writing. This was before he’d written WOOL, back when he still had a day job. He returned many times to just write with us and hear our stories. He’s the one who introduced me to the concept of self-publishing and encouraged me to put my work out there so soon. If not for his suggestion, I probably wouldn’t have self-published at all during high school.
MM: You mentioned Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot as the book that really inspired you to be a horror author. Talk about a perfect introduction to the genre! I’m also very relieved to learn that when you write about vampires, yours don’t sparkle, either. You’ve got a vampire trilogy you are working on. How’s that coming along?
KS: Oh, it was so perfect and sparked an everlasting love for vampires – the real ones, the ones who don’t sparkle. My vampire trilogy will always have a special place in my heart. I wrote the first drafts when I was fourteen or fifteen. They’ve changed a lot since then, and I suspect they will change a lot again before they are published. Right now, I’m stepping away from a lot of tropes and clichés in the genre, and working on some newer fiction. Though, I absolutely plan to return to my trilogy to edit, revise, and rewrite – I’m sure it will terrify teens one day!
MM: What has been your most proud accomplishment as an author so far?
KS: Oh wow, that one’s a tough question. It feels a little weird to say I’m proud of myself – a bit self-gloating and that’s really not like me. But, I would have to say that I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve never stopped taking workshops. Whether it’s online or in-person, I always jump at the opportunity to take a workshop and learn more about the craft. I’m never afraid of criticism. If I were, I wouldn’t have returned to The Borderlands Press Writers Boot Camp for the second year in a row! (laughs)
I think that too many authors take a few courses and think they know enough. Which might be true, maybe they know enough to write something decent – amazing even – and get published. But, I think everybody can always learn, grow, expand, and get better.
Personally, I plan on going back to the Borderlands Press Writers Boot Camp even when I’m in my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, hell, probably till I retire or die of old age! (laughs)
It’s a truly amazing experience to be around so many writers, get so much feedback on your work, and to know that you have something to work on improving, a direction to move forward in. So yeah, I’m proud of myself because even though it’s not always easy or fun, I always push myself to learn more and truly never stop improving my craft.
MM: What is a typical day in the life of ‘Kya, Professional Author’ like? Do you have a set writing schedule you follow weekly? Is there a word-count you demand of yourself each day?
KS: Right now, my daily life is filled with marketing and copyrighting. That’s the career I’m working on building, and my fiction work is kind of my side-hustle for now, especially since I’m still (always) learning and growing. So my typical day:
Wake up and before anything else: Coffee. Is there any other way to start your morning? Then I’ll reply to emails, and do what’s in my planner for marketing. I am huge on organization. If it’s not in my planner, it doesn’t exist or get done.
After my marketing work comes fiction. I don’t really follow a set word count each day. That’s mechanical and word counts don’t mean much to me. I find that if I push myself to write, say, 2,500 words a day, most of them get edited and cut out during the revision process. Writing is about expressing myself, telling the story that’s inside me, and being creative. I write what’s begging to come out – even when it’s hard to write, I still write – and then I call it a day.
I still cut so much out in the editing and revision process, but not limiting or pushing myself to achieve a certain word count each day, allows for more flexibility and creativity to shine through. Sometimes, I’ll write 5,000 words and that’s awesome. Other times, I’ll spend twice as long writing 500 words.
I don’t think word count matters, what matters is applying yourself and making sure you work to achieve your dreams each and every day.
MM: When you are writing, do you prefer silence around you or are you a music listener?
KS: I go back and forth. I love music. If I didn’t have a career in writing, I’d have one in music. So, there’s no way I can go a full day without listening to something. But, if I listen to a song with lyrics, especially lyrics I love, I’ll end up typing that out instead of what I’m trying to write.
Sometimes, I’ll listen to a soundtrack or some classical music. Gosh, I love Moonlight Sonata! I could listen to that on repeat all day and not get bored. Other times, it’s just me and the clicking of the keyboard. So, it depends on my mood!
MM: Your Dreams Come True Anthology, Vol.1: Stories for the Campfire is a fantastic collection that I really want to throw the spotlight on for a minute. To think that you have writers as young as seven featured in this collection is simply awesome. You’ve always been one to encourage fellow authors and support independent artists as often as possible and the world could use a lot more of that. What inspired you to put this collection together and are there any plans for a Volume 2 yet?
KS: Thank you! I’m so happy you decided to focus on this for a minute. I’m really excited about it and I loved putting it together. I just rebooted the Aspirations Press website and I have some big plans for the blog, including writing posts with writing advice targeted toward young writers, featuring guest YA authors with interviews and guest posts, and more!
As a teen, I submitted to some magazines, but my stories were never a good fit for them. It’s hard when you’re a teen and you write horror. So, I started my collection of rejection slips – or rather emails. My first published work was published in the Watauga County Library’s Thingummywut Literary Magazine. It was amazing and inspiring to see my work in print, along with other authors my age!
That’s one of the biggest things that kept me motivated: to actually be published in a magazine with other young writers. I want to give that feeling and motivation to young, aspiring authors in the horror genre! They are the future of fear and I think they deserve to have an outlet that nourishes their passions and creativity. Especially with so many schools having limited funding, and art programs getting cut, now it’s more important than ever to create a positive, creative outlet for kids.
I hope that other presses and publishing houses join in and make more blogs, anthologies, and magazines available for kids and teens to submit their stories to.
MM: If you could sit down and discuss the art of writing with three authors, past or present, who would have a seat at your roundtable and why?
KS: Wow, that’s another tough one! Let’s see… Jack Ketchum for sure, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson.
MM: What words of advice would you offer a young lady who is interested in horror writing but may not know how to go about advancing their hobby into a career? Let’s face it – not every youngster has access to horror, depending on their home life.
KS: I’d say go to your library, read as much as you can in all the genres that you can. Read books you expect to hate. Read everything because there is something to be learned from every book no matter what the genre is. Advancing into a career is a hard move for anybody. My advice would be: don’t quit your day job! (laughs)
But, keep learning, attend all the writing workshops you can. They don’t have to be horror because you’ll apply a lot of the same skills and you will always learn something.
I took a nonfiction writing course when I was seventeen. I was invited to by the writer at the last minute, and even though I didn’t think I would get anything out of it (since I wrote horror, definitely not nonfiction), I can now say it was one of the most beneficial classes I ever took. I still learn techniques I learned in that classroom. It’s helped me develop characters and an emotional connection with my reader. If you educate yourself, constantly work on improving your craft, and remain open to criticism, you will go far in this world. And, you might just get lucky enough to see a path to turn your hobby into a career.
MM: What are you currently working on?
KS: I am currently working on building a marketing course specifically tailored to horror authors, and helping them with online marketing such as social media and email newsletters to boost their sales, following, and reputation as an author.
I’m also working a new standalone YA Horror novel about a kick-ass teen, Nichole, who’s a black belt in Taekwondo. She and her friends team up to save her home town and families from being torn apart and ruined forever. But, she’ll need more than a black belt to save her friends from the monsters that raided her town. It’s fun, and I’m excited to be writing it!
I sincerely appreciate Kya’s time and I urge you all to check out her website to keep up on all of the cool stuff Kya is working on!